'In its first meeting each member of the Committee shall make a declaration of absence of conflict of interest in conducting an independent and fair enquiry against Mr. Rahul Johri.'
The independent panel probing the sexual harassment charge against Board of Control for Cricket in India CEO Rahul Johri must declare absence of any conflict of interest in its first meeting, the Committee of Administrators said on Tuesday after a member had to be replaced owing to this reason.
Laying down the terms of reference for the three-member panel, the COA said the probe committee will be free to investigate all charges against Johri and would be open to hearing any 'person who is desirous of placing any fact' in the matter.
Johri was accused of sexual harassment in an anonymous social media post, which has since been deleted. He has denied the allegation in response to the showcause notice issued by the COA.
The probe panel originally comprised former Allahabad High Court judge Justice Rakesh Sharma, former Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Barkha Singh and former CBI director P C Sharma.
However, Sharma was replaced by advocate Veena Gowda after it came to light that one of his relatives is a BCCI employee.
The first meeting of the committee will be held in Mumbai but the date has not yet been specified.
"In its first meeting each member of the Committee shall make a declaration of absence of conflict of interest in conducting an independent and fair enquiry against Mr. Rahul Johri," stated the committee's terms of reference posted on the BCCI website.
The COA said all its communication with Johri will be provided to the independent committee.
The three members of the committee would be paid Rs 1.5 lakh per meeting and the Board's former internal complaints committee head Karina Kriplani will be its contact person for any assistance required from the BCCI.
Kriplani has resigned from her position in the internal complaints committee but continues to be a legal advisor.
The COA said that a public notice would be issued soon, inviting information.
"The BCCI and all its office bearers/employees/consultants shall provide all assistance and co-operation to the Committee as it may require," the COA stated.
Apart from the anonymous social media charge, former Mumbai captain Shishir Hattangadi also claims to have information on Johri's alleged misconduct in the past.
"If the @BCCI want information about @RJohri on #metoo I am happy to assist them. I am putting my hand up as a former Captain!," he tweeted.
Giving further details, Hattangadi told The Times of India: "Miss X reached out to me, saying I have experienced this with this gentleman, while he was in the position of BCCI CEO. What do I do, can you help me? I said yes, I will talk to the COA members. I talked to a COA member and requested them to speak to her and put it on paper and the matter ended there. And then...I also tweeted to the BCCI that I am happy to come and testify or speak to you on this issue."
"I asked the lady to write to the COA because whatever you say has to be documented and presented to the three-member committee. You cannot leave anything in the realms of speculation. This is an allegation for somebody to contest if they have to. But you have said it, so put it on paper," he added.